Do You Have the Skills to Succeed?

With more than 20,000 procurement and supply chain jobs available, do you have the necessary skills to land a coveted position? This was the topic of discussion among four CPOs. Moderated by Lara Nichols, associate vice president, externalization and Center of Excellence for Merck & Co., the panel explored a variety of issues around critical skills CPOs look for in their hires.

The following includes insights from each of the CPOs present on the panel.

Deborah K. Beavin, C.P.M., MBA, Six Sigma Master Black Belt, CPO for Humana Inc.:

For Beavin, core analytical skills and the ability to manage change and thrive in an environment of ambiguity are critical in succeeding at Humana. And when faced with resistance, how do you work through that? Are you resilient? This is where cultural fit becomes important. Beavin looks for individuals who are able to drive change. It’s important for candidates to discuss their expectations to ensure alignment between those expectations and company culture.

Eric Germa, senior vice president and CPO for ANN, Inc.:

Germa views the supply management organization as an internal consultancy that is constantly adding value to the enterprise. Thus, having team members with an entrepreneurial spirit and problem-solving abilities is paramount — as is having a passion for discovering new business opportunities and involving others to help find solutions. When interviewing candidates for a supply management position, Germa asks, if you were in charge of a procurement organization, what would you change? The answer to the question often reveals where that person’s passion lies.

Tim Fiore, CPSM, C.P.M., MCIPS, senior vice president, supply management, and CPO for ThyssenKrupp NA:

Regardless of your level in the organization, you must bring change and make people feel comfortable with change. And what about advice to those entering the profession or looking to advance to the next level? Fiore wants to know that they’re committed to the profession. He looks for people who want to be in supply management. From a skills perspective, critical thinking, interpersonal and leadership skills are vital. And like Beavin, Fiore says people must be responsible for their own careers. A major part of that is understanding your strengths and your ideal working environment. For example, after researching a company, is it too fast-paced or slow-paced for your style of work? Recognizing this before making an employment decision is important.

Quentin Roach, CPO and senior vice president for Merck & Co.:

In the pharmaceutical industry, data analytics and using the information to drive decision-making are key for that sector. And having core skills such as negotiating is not enough unless they’re elevated to a strategic level. For example, pharmaceutical companies must deliver on products and solutions three to five years out. Thus, contracts must be negotiated appropriately in order to execute on those time horizons. Like his colleagues on the panel, Roach emphasized the importance of self-awareness and alignment with company culture. Is there an understanding of the full scope of the business and industry? Roach also said people must have “confident humility” — recognizing that you can’t be successful without other people.

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